Prehistoric Bus-Size Crocodile Discovery Unearths Possible Links to Mass Dinosaur Extinction

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Rendering of the M. Rex (Davide Bonadonna)

The largest sea-dwelling crocodile ever, previously unknown to science, was recently discovered in a fossil-rich area of Tunisia on the edge of the Sahara Desert, paleontologists announced earlier this week, and the discover is leading scientists to reevaluate previous theories on when exactly dinosaurs may have gone extinct.

The crocodile-like creature supposedly weighed 3 tons and was over 30 feet long, with a 5-foot long skull. The new species has been dubbed the Machimosaurus Rex (M. Rex) by researchers, who released their findings in the journal, Cretaceous Research.

Lead author Federico Fanti stated that this species of prehistoric crocodile could grow to be “almost the size of a bus” and that the M. Rex “was definitely at the top of it’s food chain at the time, at least in this particular locality.”

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The M. Rex skull, and a comparison of a human to the creature (Federico Fanti)

The M. Rex skull, and a comparison of a human to the creature (Federico Fanti)

The site where the M. Rex was found in Tunisia was most likely a lagoon that merged with the ocean. It is likely the M. Rex munched on fish and turtles. With oversized heads and an incredibly strong bite force, the M. Rex could easily bite through a turtle’s shell with one chomp. The croc’s skull took two days to uncover, and the “rest of the body was just lying there,” Fanti said on the excavation, “We found fossils… beautiful ones.”

The most exciting part of this M. Rex discovery, however, is not the species itself but the age of the fossils.

Excavating for fossils of the M. Rex (Fanti)

Excavating for fossils of the M. Rex (Fanti)

Dinosaurs were previously thought to have been extinct by the end of the Jurassic period, 150 million years ago. Interestingly, the bones of the M. Rex date back to 130 million years ago, after what was originally thought to be post-extinction.

Fanti commented that this species lived after the ‘hypothesized mass extinction.” The discovery opens the doors to new research on the time period in which dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Fanti concluded, “That’s leading us to consider the mass extinction theory is wrong and that we should better understand what’s going on at the end of the Jurassic period.”

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